Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has this week visited Chicago to meet with a series of prospective investors as well as companies with an existing presence in Northern Ireland.
In his first visit to the United States as Minister for the Economy, Mr Hamilton is promoting a message that Northern Ireland continues to be a great place for United States firms to do business.
Minister Hamilton said: "Northern Ireland has close economic ties with the United States and I am keen to keep that strong relationship going.
"The United States is our number one foreign director investor with 185 US companies employing 23,000 people in Northern Ireland and is also an important trading partner, accounting for almost 21% of Northern Ireland’s exports in 2015/16.
"I want to not just maintain but grow that partnership and build on the success of recent inward investments from the US and the 74% surge in our exports to America in the last year.
"Bringing more and better jobs to Northern Ireland is my main priority. While in Chicago I spoke with existing investors as well as potential new ones.
"Northern Ireland has many great selling points. We have good infrastructure, a comparatively low cost base and strong government support for business. But a key aspect of our proposition to investors is our people.
"Our colleges and universities are internationally renowned and have been key in producing the talent to drive the development of Northern Ireland’s technology and knowledge industries. Coupled with a reduced rate of corporation tax, our strong skills base will make Northern Ireland extremely attractive to US investors and will help take our economy to a whole new level."
During his visit, Minister Hamilton met with major insurance firm Allstate at their Illinois headquarters. Mr Hamilton continued: "Allstate first established operations in Northern Ireland around 20 years ago and now employ approximately 2,000 people in sites in Belfast, Londonderry and Strabane. They are a great example of how doing business in Northern Ireland works well for international companies. I recently had the pleasure of attending a ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone for Allstate's impressive new office in Belfast.
"They, like so many inward investors, are putting down strong roots in Northern Ireland. Around 80% of companies who come to Northern Ireland reinvest which is a tremendous testimony to what our region has to offer. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Allstate as they grow their presence in Northern Ireland."
While in Chicago the Minister visited the MATTER Healthcare Technology incubator which is home to more than 400 early-stage, high-growth digital start-ups.
Simon Hamilton said: “MATTER is a model for best practice when it comes to helping start-up companies. I want to see local entrepreneurs thrive and Northern Ireland gain a reputation as a start-up nation. By visiting this hub I was able to get an overview on how the centre runs as well as meeting some start-up companies to find out how this excellent model has worked for them.”